Friday, March 16, 2007

Fire halts Eurostar

The Eurostar service out of Waterloo is cancelled for this evening and most of tomorrow as well, as explained on the Eurostar website:

Questions & Answers

Which says in part:

Because of the risk of gas cylinders exploding, the fire authorities have stated that it will be 24 hours before they can intervene. There is no alternative route and therefore, Eurostar regrets that it has no alternative but to suspend its entire operation until Saturday 17 March at 17h00 (UK) and 18h00 (CET).
This is a bummer since we were heading out to Brussels for the weekend.

The problems start as companies fall into various states of denial about the implications. The hotel initially tried to tell us that they would hold our reservation, so no need to cancel (what, hold it until the next time we can get across the channel?) and then said that it wasn't their problem because the trip was booked through Eurostar. Anyway, I feel I did the right thing by them to let them know we would not be there.

Now I'm on the phone to Eurostar. The reaction here so far has been to ask if we have travel insurance (we do) and then to hang up on me as I was answering a question! Not good.

And since Eurostar have contact numbers for travelers, why didn't we get an SMS to tell us not to bother fighting through the crowds at Waterloo, and then fighting through them again to get home?

The fire is bad news for everyone and is not the fault of the hotel or Eurostar, but being unpleasant to customers it not the right reaction.
Update: well, after 40 minutes held in a queue since the Eurostar guy hung up on me, we think the staff must have just gone home leaving us hanging here. Very poor behavior, Eurostar. Very poor.

Further update: I just called Eurostar again and spoke to someone who was very helpful. It seems that Eurostar have decided to simply refund people affected by the fire yesterday. This incident was not Eurostar's fault, but I think giving refunds is the best thing to do under the circumstances. And in other news on this subject it seems that when services do resume (expected to be at 17:00 today) it will be on a first come first served basis - it'll be mayhem at Waterloo station this afternoon.

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